The newest plans for downtown Tampa: another grocery store, boutique hotel and more

Published Sept. 20, 2016

TAMPA — In the years to come, downtown Tampa streets will be lined with retail storefronts. The city will have at least two grocery stores, more than a half-dozen parks and will be home to two more urban hotels.

While plans to redevelop downtown Tampa are still years in the making, the local real estate firm in charge of the $2 billion project is moving quickly to map out what goes where. That includes some new updates, like a 30,000-square-foot grocery store and a 150-room boutique hotel tower with 30 condominium units.

Strategic Property Partners is still drafting the blueprints for the 50-acre urban core owned by the company's backers, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Bill Gates' Cascade Investment. But the plans are coming together, said SPP CEO James Nozar.

"We want to create a sense of place in downtown," Nozar said. "This is truly a mixed-use space, which is unique for Tampa."

Nozar is expected to give a presentation about the redevelopment of Channelside Bay Plaza, which was purchased by Vinik's company in 2014, to the Port Tampa Bay board of directors this morning.

Here's what James Nozar said: We want to bulldoze Channelside Bay Plaza to make make way for a new park, restaurants and condos

Each building on each block in SPP's downtown project has a team of designers working to set the tone from the ground floor, Nozar said. This means they're focusing mostly on the lobbies of apartment, condo and hotel towers, but also restaurants and storefronts in the first phase of the development, which reaches from the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel to the new University of South Florida's Morsani College of Medicine and north to Finley Street.

The first phase of SPP's development is half the overall density of the entire project, Nozar explained. The $35 million in roadway construction actively under way on Channelside Drive and Morgan Street is setting up new grids to allow for more urban-like shopping and pedestrian areas.

Nozar said it's too early to say who their tenants could be, but a "high-quality, full-service" grocery store will likely be built on the block of Ball Street in between Water Street and South Meridian Avenue. This additional grocer "will complement" the Publix store already under way at the corner of E Twiggs Street and N Meridian Avenue, he said.

"The region is already underserved and will continue to be with all this new development," Nozar said about a second grocery store for downtown. An additional market-type grocery option could be a part of future plans, he said, noting farmers markets or even an independent market similar to Duckweed Urban Market, which already serves Tampa.

A 150-room upscale boutique hotel will likely be built on Channelside Drive at South Nebraska Avenue and Water Street, Nozar said. It will have high-end restaurants inside and have up to 30 condo units for sale above it. There are no details about which company flagship will operate the hotel yet, Nozar said, nor the 500-room hotel that will open across the street from the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel.

Follow trends affecting the local economy

Follow trends affecting the local economy

Subscribe to our free Business by the Bay newsletter

We’ll break down the latest business and consumer news and insights you need to know every Wednesday.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

"This is a higher-end building and we think it serves those who want to own a second home in the market or a downtown pad," he said of the smaller proposed hotel. "You could see some professional sports players living here."

Several residential towers will be built above the retail and restaurants within this district. Nozar said they will range from small studio apartments to more lavish condos meant for empty nesters. Pricing will be competitive with other buildings already in the market.

While there will be several office spaces within the development, including a creative workspace above a new restaurant where Ferg's Live currently stands on Channelside Drive, the largest office building will be located at S Morgan Street and Channelside Drive. It will offer 100,000- to 400,000-square-foot plans, and is meant to attract a large regional employer or new company headquarters. Nozar said SPP has talked to several potential tenants and hopes to have a lease signed with a major office space tenant before the end of the year.

Vertical construction is expected to begin next year and the first phase of the project should be completed by 2020.

Contact Justine Griffin at or (727) 893-8467. Follow @SunBizGriffin.